Hand dipping dough ball into sanding sugar with cookie sheet in background.
Photography & Art Direction: Anthony Contrino – Food Styling: Katie Stilo

This past holiday season I was tasked with creating a cookie for Savannah Guthrie for the TODAY Show’s Great American Cookie Swap. Savannah wanted to recreate one of her absolute favorite cookies, the snickerdoodle.  Savannah’s cookie was to represent Arizona, where she grew up, so we wanted to incorporate the colors of the state flag. To do so, we needed to do a twist on the traditional snickerdoodle cookie.  While all the main components are there (a chewy cookie with a slight tang), we added the cinnamon to the cookie batter so we could roll the cookies in sanding sugar, giving them a more festive look and adding an extra bit of crunch!

Savannah’s Snickerdoodle-ish Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 30 cookies


  • ½ cup fine sanding sugar
  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted European-style butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  • Place the sanding sugar into a small, shallow bowl; set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until well combined.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing the first to incorporate before adding the next; scrape down the sides, as needed, until completely combined.
  • Add the vanilla and mix until well combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl, as needed.
  • Working one at a time, using a 1-ounce (2 tablespoon) cookie scoop, scoop the dough into a mound and place it into the sanding sugar.
  • Using a spoon, carefully sprinkle the sugar over the top and sides of the mound until completely coated; repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
  • Carefully transfer the mounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, being sure to leave 2-inches between each mound.
  • Bake, in batches until set around the edges, but still soft in the centers, about 12 minutes.
  • Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooking rack; cool completely.
  • Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.
Course: Dessert
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino